Brave (1/28/18)

One of my fondest childhood memories is taking rides with my family through the mountainous back roads of West Virginia. One of these roads contained a place where we could stop and walk out on a rock cliff that overlooked a small valley. The view was incredible.

Once when we were standing on the rock, I asked my father, “How high is this cliff?” “Look over the edge and see,” was his response. That didn’t sit well with me. I don’t like heights. He added, “Step out and look. I’ll hold your hand to make sure you don’t fall.”

At that moment, I had to make a choice. Would I give up control, take dad by the hand and trust him to keep me safe?

The nation of Israel had to make the same choice. Would they give up control, take God’s hand and trust him when they faced danger? They had been slaves in Egypt. Their living conditions were horrible. Male children were drowned at birth. They were beaten, oppressed and overworked. God sent Moses to lead them out of Egypt and to Mount Sinai, where he gave them the law. Then he led them to the edge of Canaan, the land he’d promised them centuries before. (more…)

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Bonded (1/21/18)

Emperor penguins are the tallest and heaviest of all penguin species. They grow to heights of 44-48 inches tall and weigh between 55-84 pounds. Some have been known to stay submerged for up to 18 minutes and dive to depths of 1800 feet.

Their reproductive cycle begins at the start of the Antarctic winter, in March or April. They walk at around 1 MPH to their breeding grounds, which is anywhere from 31 to 75 miles from the sea. After the female lays her egg, she transfers it to top of the male’s feet. The female returns to the ocean to feed while the male incubates the egg for about two months.

The female returns around the time the egg hatches. She then feeds and tends to the chick while the male walks back to the ocean for food. The parents take turns going back and forth from the ocean to the chick so they can feed it. They do this until the chick is around 140 days old. Then the chick is on its own.

In many species of animals, the male has nothing to do with raising his own offspring. He breeds the female and then leaves. The mother assumes total responsibility for raising the young. Penguins are different. The project of hatching and raising a chick to adulthood will fail unless they both work together through every step of the process. For example, if they aren’t successful in transferring the egg from the mother to the father’s feet, the cold temperatures will soon freeze the egg. This means all of the work they’ve done up to this point has been in vain. (more…)

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Rafters (1/14/17)

What’s your honest answer to this question: Am I living up to my fullest potential as a Christian? For example, even though I don’t understand everything written in the Bible, am I being obedient to the verses I do understand? Am I compliant to the leading of the Holy Spirit in me? Is Jesus the most important thing in my life?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, why not? Perhaps it’s because we’re not living as we were created to live. To help understand what I’m talking about, let’s look at penguins again.

A group of penguins on land is called a waddle. The term comes from the way penguins walk. To “waddle” is to “walk with short steps and a clumsy swaying motion” (Oxford Dictionaries). Last week, we talked about how there are instances where our walk with Jesus is filled with short, clumsy steps. At times, we’re waddlers. This is why we need to love and support one another. But, at this point, we need to wrestle with something. Are we really supposed to be waddlers? (more…)

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Waddlers (1/7/18)

Do you ever wonder what goes through a pastor’s mind when he or she is in front of people? Let me tell you what went through mine when Jeff Dibert, our Pastoral Support Team Leader, gave me your Christmas gift. During the worship service, Jeff asked Stephanie, my wife, and I to come forward. Then he handed me a gift bag. When I pulled out a stuffed penguin, he said, “We heard you like penguins.” I immediately thought, “Surely to goodness they didn’t buy me a penguin, did they?” Knowing Jeff, he would if he could.

Isn’t it funny how once our minds start going in a certain direction, we keep moving in that direction even if it isn’t logical? Then I got to thinking, “Is it even legal to own a penguin in the U.S.?

“No. I don’t think it is. Are they sending me someplace that has penguins?”

By this point, Jeff revealed, much to my relief, that the gift was tickets to a Pittsburgh Penguins game.

Later in the week, I started thinking about my original question. “Is it legal to have a penguin as a pet in the United States? I decided to look up the answer. According to several websites, the answer seems to be only if you’re a zoo. Since they’re a protected species, you can own them only if you have the right permits and a proper place to house them. (more…)

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